The differences now are that I now produce very little testosterone (T) compared to before. I never needed an anti-androgen and kept my T-levels below the threshold. However, this did mean that my levels were probably a little higher than those on a blocker and perhaps made the effects of the oestrogen (E) a little lessened. I also have found that those on blockers have also mentioned heightened effects post-op so perhaps this is relevant to most who have GRS. I also have little or no gender dysphoria and this distress removed from my life has had a calming effect.
I have been advised that I now need to take oestrogen for the rest of my life. There would be significant risks if I were not to do so such as osteoporosis, de-feminisation, weight gain and a probable return of my gender dysphoria. The first one is serious but the last would be more of a consideration!
I returned to my hormone regimen three weeks after surgery and it was a blessed relief to do so. The hot flushes were getting seriously distressing and I strongly desired a return of the feminising effects. It took a long time to feel effect, probably as much as four weeks before the hot flushes left. It took so long, I even panicked and booked a blood test sooner than I wished. I wanted to wait more than the month advised to let my levels settle but I was desperate to know as I felt nothing was happening. As it happened, my levels were at a lower than before but satisfactory, 333 pMol (I now need to aim for 200-600). Three months from resuming, the effects are now being felt and as I said, it is very much different.
Body hair is one good place to start, and this has been staggering. The T surge I experienced last year made for a massive spurt in growth of body hair. Not only did it start growing faster, but also thicker and the fair hairs were replaced by the dark hairs of old. Now they have gone really fine again, slower to grow and less of them as well. Instead of a weekly clear with the epilator, it is now twice every three weeks and I think I might be able to go fortnightly soon. There are also less hairs in that time than there were weekly. Facial hair has also slowed but there is still some issue with larger hairs and I am still getting some acne although it is much improved from last year.
My body shape has changed in a few ways. I am getting hips, and they are much more pronounced than before. Even though I managed some weight gain post-op, I am now displaying a very feminine shape and it is getting better almost every day. My breasts have grown, less internally but more all over with a fuller more rounded effect. Surprisingly, there is no pain at all, whereas before stopping last year they had been sore since commencement of hormones. My facial change has moved back to the feminine features I had too, whether it is any more so is hard to tell. My skin on my body has returned to its previous softness although Mandy says it is even more soft.
I now get very bad PMT. This is a controversial subject with some adamant we can get such a thing and just as many saying we can't. I have researched this as well as speaking to many others and it seems much more prevalent with those who either live with cis-gender women or work with them. I live with a very hormonal lady and sure enough, we are completely synchronised. We both have a cold phase (2-3 days), with bone chilling shivers and then a hot phase (a week) where it is hard to keep cool. About a week after this the PMT starts and I either want to shout at everyone or just huddle in a corner weeping. This is no exaggeration and it is going to take some getting used to. It is very much worse and more consistent than before surgery
Emotionally is where it really gets interesting and it is very hard to explain in words what has changed. But the effects are much more profound. Some of this is down to the removal of the gender dysphoria and the fact that life and the world are much clearer to see. There is a certain connection to my emotions that wasn't there before and I can really connect to others feelings in a way that i couldn't before. If someone upsets me, I can (after getting through the moment) look at it from their side and try to reason why such a thing happened. This is empathy and it is much easier to exercise than before and I think I am even less judgemental than before. I also find myself listening even better than before and interrupt people much less (a very masculine attitude). Lets not forget all the crying I am doing these day. I never seem to stop sometimes but it feels good to do so, so I just go with it.
No one warned me about any of this but it has been good to experience it. Removing the physical dysphoria was enough of a reason for the surgery, but this is a very pleasant bonus.
My GRS time-line :
- Surgery recollections - The day of the surgery itself.
- Bed rest - The days following surgery and the critical resting phase.
- Vaginal pack removal and first dilations - The day I saw my vagina for the first time and started dilating.
- Catheter woes and first solo dilations - Catheter comes out, goes back in again! I also dilate without supervision for the first time.
- An adventure of a lifetime - Getting back home and reflecting on the whole experience.
- 10 days post-op - Getting back to normality and bad smells!
- 2 weeks post-op - Catheter removal and successful toileting.
- 3 weeks post-op - Healing well and advancing dilation.
- 4 weeks post-op - More healing and hot flushes.
- 6 weeks post-op - An emotional time.
- 2 Months post-op - A clitoris emerges!